How to Get a Job in the Marijuana Industry

Not long ago, talk of growing, producing, and selling cannabis was only ever discussed in the dark corner of some hazy backroom or basement. Now, the question has come out in the open: how do you make a career for yourself in the marijuana industry?

Obviously, the advent of legal recreational weed in Colorado and Washington, not to mention the legalization of medical marijuana in an ever-increasing number of states, has all but completely normalized this discussion, but the question remains fairly frequent as the industry unfolds in Colorado.

One of the most common comparisons being drawn is calling this emergence of legal cannabusiness the great “Green Rush,” equivocating the phenomenon with the California Gold Rush of 1848-1855. And if nothing else can be said about the mad scramble to occupy some part of the cannabis industry, you can at least count on there being some stiff competition, so properly preparing yourself is essential to finding success with this exciting new opportunity.

With legalization in effect, suddenly there are career options related to the industry sprouting up left and right. One important consideration about the cannabis industry is that not every job will be directly handling the product: there will be a rising demand for glass blowers, LED grow light manufacturers, and hydroponic engineers, for example, in addition to more expected positions such as budtender or marijuana producer. And if you keep your interest all-encompassing, it will be much easier to find a position that suits both you and your employer.

The following is a brief guide that will aid in your preparation and qualification for having a successful cannabis industry job interview:

Analyze your desired job before showing up for the interview. Research the company. Learn about their influence, and figure out when they got involved in the cannabis industry. Make a list of the skills your desired position will require, and be ready to explain exactly how and why you can fill that role.

You should know beforehand exactly which position you desire from your potential employer.  Don’t show up and just say, “Give me whatever you’ve got, sir!” because that makes you look desperate.  Instead, you want to express confidence, so when you say “I can be the best BudTender you’ll ever have,” they’re that much more likely to believe you.

Practice your interview! Practice with a mirror, practice with a friend, or even practice with your dog. The more you say the things you want to share in your interview, the better you’ll get at saying them. And, following a similar vein, make sure you have your interview clothes ready before the actual day of your interview. Even though the cannabis industry has sprouted from the counterculture of recent decades, showing up in cut-off jean shorts and a tie-die probably won’t help your chances.

Know what to bring to your interview! Typical things include extra copies of your resume or portfolio, a list of references, and a list of questions you have about the company. Also know what not to bring: don’t seem obsessive over your cellphone, don’t chew gum or bring your coffee for the interview, and… well, probably don’t bring your weed.

Before you leave your interview, ask your questions! If you express genuine interest in the company, employers will appreciate it. Listen carefully during your interview so that you will be prepared to ask some questions of your own if you didn’t prepare enough beforehand. The best job interviews will feel more like a conversation, and the best conversations are usually not very one-sided.

The nation’s first cannabis industry job fair, CannaSearch 2014, was hosted in March at O.penVape’s headquarters in Denver. The vaporizer pen company’s chief revenue officer Todd Mitchem said, “Inside the cannabis industry, we are focused on professional, qualified people — just like any other industry. We won’t be impressed if someone says, ‘I’ve been smoking all morning, I can still talk.'”

The fair drew more than 1200 hopeful job searchers, nearly twice the expected amount. If nothing else, that’s a sign that you’re not the only person out there mulling over the same question — how can I get in on this industry? — and that it’s time to make a plan to get yourself involved.


Photo Credit: Coleen Whitfield

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